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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  January 16, 2013 12:00am-12:30am PST

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tavis: good evening. smiley. -- i am tavis smiley. we are revisiting some of our favorite moments over 10 years. we look back in our conversations with one of the most iconic artists of all time, prince. we revisit to memorable conversations with the music legend including a reunion and special performance here with former revolution band member wendy malvoin. a look back at appearances by prince coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only
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halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: when we launched the show in january 2004, one of our goals was to become a destination for the biggest names in music not only for a place to perform in a late night setting but a comfortable setting for conversation. we found it strange that on most
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late-night shows, musicians perform but seldom ever speak. if you weeks after we launched the show were paid a visit by one of the biggest artists on the planet, prince. this was his first time ever appearing on pbs. we decided to start the show differently before jumping into a terrific conversation. good evening from los angeles. tonight, prince on pbs. ♪ tavis: i am a fan of your stuff. i went to vegas to see your
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shows. you have to stop doing this at two or three in the morning. i cannot step. >> that is who i tell -- how i tell who was real. tavis: coming on at 2 am and on at 2:00 a.m. and planning until 5 or 6:00 a.m. i watch the audience and there were two or three things that stand out to me about your audience. you have the absolute most diverse audience of any artist i have ever hung out with our experienced in concert consistently. what is it about you or your music? i've seen a black thing and the white thing, you have the most ethically, culturally, racially diverse audience of any artist on the scene. why you? >> i think from the beginning as
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i was coming into my own persona and understanding of who i was, i never talks down to my audience. when you do not talk down to your audience, they can grow with you. i give them a lot of credit to be able to hang with me this long because i have gone through a lot of changes. they have allowed me to grow. we can tackle some serious subjects and try to be better human beings, all of us. tavis: of the other thing about your audience that is different is your audience is very musically sophisticated. they love music. it is another thing to have fans that are sophisticated about music. >> and a lot of the people who come see us now, their parents listened to real music, real songwriting, real musicianship. their respect somebody who takes
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it seriously. i grew up that way. when we do our shows i tried to have the best musicians i can find with me at that time and like i said, we do not play down to them. we do not -- it is not just about a party. that is going to be any way. it is good music. you have to challenge them and i think that is lacking in music today. >> you have changed as you said a moment ago and involved in so many ways and gone through so many stages in your career development. he said a moment ago that because of that you like to do different things. it is difficult for a performer for an audience to hang onto his or her audience when they're not doing the stuff that you know they want to hear. you have a certain -- i say this with all respect -- there is a certain arrogance about you that
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comes out on stage. you know they want to hear "delirious," "1999," everything else. for your fans they do not leave disappointed. >> i do not know who was the one who came up with the notion that you have to play the same songs every concert. tavis: probably fans. >> most of the people who see yes, they have seen me umpteen times. the only pity is when they show their kids and they're trying to show their kids the same experience they have. i do not know how any of this growth if we tread water. the idea is we keep growing. like we were seeing before, the fan base i have now, there are so sophisticated they almost expect me to do the expected and
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that gives me a lot of room to challenge myself as well as them. tavis: who was running the business now? there's a big debate, which just happened to l.a. reid, more recommendations than any other grammy level -- label. the question is, who is running the business? are the creatives running it? is it the seeds? >> that changed a long time ago when it became really bottom line. you will see -- if you go back willou look at thesmusic you see a big change when mtv came into the business. that sort of mentality is what is king now. it is not about content and substance. hip-hop is very diverse. if you only focus on one aspect
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of it, what you get is this image of black america that is completely contrary to what actually goes on, you know. i have never seen you in a jogging suit, fit and trim, but look at how you dress. the gatekeepers, they know who they are. we do not need to name names. rest assured they are not musicians and they do not have anything to do with music. if you sit one of them in a room and ask them, what is it that you do, how did you get this job? now -- a lot of them came from law, none of them came from accounting. there merchants, basically. this is not to disrespect them or demean their role in any way but at the same time, you cannot expect them to know who they are
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signing and sort of gate keep the music. if this matters to you but let me ask anyway. what is your sense of how the public has you do as a personality over the years and how that has changed? do you concern yourself with that? are you conscious of how you have been viewed over the course of your career? does it matter to you? what do you think about what people think of you, if you think about that all? >> that is kind of a deep question. tavis: i get one every now and then. >> i am sort of like a -- because of the stances i take, people will have different viewpoints of me depending on which side of the fans were sitting on. like we talked about the music industry, a merchant would have
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trouble being called a bean counter. they would be hard pressed to try to sing a song with me. i do not care what people say about me because it is a reflection of who they are. people wish i sound -- would sound like i used to sound, it says more about me that it is about them -- it says more about them that it says about me. why do you want me to curse, what you want me to talk like other people? cursing was cool when nobody was doing it. just a couple of people. if everybody wears the same clothes, it ain't cool no more. different by being reecy today. it is not interesting anymore. when you lose that, it is the
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whole scheme. tavis: we got into conversations off camera and you are a very politically astute, politically aware, a news junkie. i have often wondered why it is, as interested as you're in the world that we live and with all this happening in the world, what your thoughts are, specifically in this election year. economically, politically, socially. tell me something about your political views in this particular and all important election year. >> just the word politics is semantics.
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we want to take care of our families and do it to the best of our abilities and see the world. people want to travel in things like that. a lot of people have not been out of the united states. i consider myself more of a spiritual person that i do political. i am more concerned with the truth, more concerned with white people will not adhere to it and why they see themselves as us against them. i used to think that we were the ones that came up with that. we did not start a lot of these wars. we do not want to go to them. tavis: in 2009 he had released three new projects all the same time. we spent two nights>> for more prince.ion with he spoke publicly about his bouts with epilepsy and how that
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shaped his life. >> i am in a celebration. i am thankful to be alive. i am thankful to have the friends and teachers that i do. i have spent the last year just playing when i feel like it and i really look forward to this time in my life. i happened to come across that show, "unforgivable blackness," the story moved me. he had to do with insurmountable odds all the time. if he would knock somebody down, people in the audience would get into the ring and pi r him back up. to continue fighting. i just related to in a lot of different ways. i have never spoken about this before but i was born epileptic.
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i used to have seizures when i was young. my mother and father did not know what to do or how to handle it. they did the best they could with what little they have. -- had . my mother told me one day i walked into her and said i would not be sick anymore. she said why and i said because an angel told me so. i don't remember saying it. that is what she told me. from that point on, i have been having to deal with a lot of things, getting teased a lot in school. early in my career i've tried to compensate for that are being as flashy as i could and noisy as i could. i just looked -- again, i looked forward to this time in my life when it could reflect back on it and talk to people like yourself, dr. cornell west, when you come to the house and we sit
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and talk about heavy things, i just become thankful. i do not know. tavis: how did you get beyond. you have so many fans of so many ages. as a kid, being teased so much and kids get teased for a variety of reasons as we know. how did you grow out of that into not just into confidence but in to excellence? maybe that is in the wrong order. accidents and confidence. how did you navigate that -- pass that? >> the first attended is i went into self.
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i taught myself music. when my father left i was determined to get as good as him. i taught myself how to play music. i stuck with it and i did it all the time. sooner or later, people in the neighborhood heard about me and they started to talk about me. it was not in the teasing fashion. it was more like a look what he can do. there is something about having people around you giving you support that is -- it is motivating. once i got that support from people, i believed i could do anything. and i had a lot of really good teachers. my best friend, andre simone and his brother eddie, i am
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indebted to in this regard. they said you can do anything you wanted to. i kept rolling with it. eventually i went out to new york and i got turned down my first time. i was not -- i felt like jack johnson then to. i was not going to be put down. tavis: back to this excellent thing -- this excellence thing. you are head and shoulders above everyone else in music. it is pretty clear. talk to me about how we who are not prince can aspire to the level of excellence you portray in what we do everyday? >> everybody is talented at something.
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that is what makes the world around. it is about good mentoring. the other thing i have to point out is that -- my father was so hard on me. i was never good enough. it was like the army when it came to music. that is not even close, he would say. not even close to what i am doing and he would play again. i could hear it. john blackwell, my drummer, his father taught him the same way. we learned from being shown. it does not come from books and reading. we need to be shown, you know. it is having really good teachers and a bar that is so high. tiger woods -- i could go on and
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on. tavis: you talked a couple of times about your father which you do not do in public and i appreciate you opening up in that way. tell me understand how -- i am trying to juxtaposed knowing you as i do, everything about you is love. you create love in the space you occupy. people feel the love. love is in york lyrical content. your whole life is about a love of humanity. i am trying to juxtaposed how you got to this place of being love when you had this relationship with your father that obviously did not always exhibit love. you could be a very mean personnel. why not? >> i have a mean side, yeah. tavis: let me back up then. >> i can go there. i am a fighter, i am very competitive. from him being so hard on me, the one thing i got out of it is
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dieter said that in his -- the one thing i got out of it is in his harshness he wanted me to excel. he used to say things like, do not ever get a girl pregnant. do not ever get married. do not this, do not that. when he would say these things, 't know what to create this -- take from this so i treated my own universe. -- created my own universe. creating your own universe is the key to it, i believe. and letting all the people that you need occupy that universe. got a black: and we
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president now. >> i do not vote. i got no dog in that race. tavis: why? >> i am one of jehovah's witnesses and we have never voted. that is not to say i do not think that president obama is a very smart individual. he means well. prophecy is what we all have to go by now. i did a sold-out concert in london. we played 21 nights in a row and all the concerts were sold out. when i would watch television over there and you would see the united nations feed, the direct feed from the united nations, you would hear them talk about religion. you would hear the bible mentioned constantly. this is not what we're used to
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in the united states. it is almost as though there is no need for god, no need for religion and justice in politics, so there is supposed to be a separation of church and state over here. we can't have a separation of state and morality. songs like "dreamer," it is the same thing. tavis: it is a rare thing to hear prince open up on those visits. we have been grateful for those visits. we leave you with another memorable moment in 2004. he wanted to reunite with former revolution band member wendy malvoin for a special performance. this was an unexpected surprise. as we closed out that show, we will tonight with a performance by prince and wendy malvoin, an
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acoustic version of the song "reflection." as always, keep the faith. ♪ the glasso catch before it falls ♪ can you turn on the stereo ♪ ♪ i want to play those songs, it's about love ♪ water theemember to plants today ♪ , too busy busy
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looking at you ♪ ♪ oh baby whens nice to know that bodies wear out ♪ ♪ we can get another ♪ ♪ what does that one thing have to do with the other one? ♪ ♪ i don't know i was just ♪inking ouabout my mother ♪ turn the stereo back down ♪ y hair this way ♪ ♪ remember back in the day ♪
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♪ w ♪oh yeah ♪ i just want to go out and play my guitar ♪ c -- allll did the the cars go by ♪ [applause] >> thank you. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with lima boye.
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that is next on kory we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life everywe know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fifth fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. >> be more. pbs. pbs.
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